Could your child, who you thought had ADD or Dyslexia, have been misdiagnosed? These both share symptoms with auditory processing disorder, and the overlap has created a big trend of misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of ADD, ADHD and Dyslexia overlap

Despite all the advances made in studying learning difficulties, children are still susceptible to being misdiagnosed. Dr. Martin Burns believes such might be the case for those with auditory processing disorder. 

In his webinar, “How Do ADD, Dyslexia, and Auditory Processing Disorder Overlap?”, he says this may come about because ADD and dyslexia share similar symptoms with auditory processing disorder. 

When symptoms overlap, a misdiagnosis occurs

According to Burns, ADD, dyslexia, and auditory processing disorder share a fundamental problem: difficulty in understanding and processing speech.


Essentially, in all three of these disorders, the parts of the brain that handle sensory input develop earlier than those responsible for focus and attention. This causes the overlapping symptoms that can easily confuse medical professionals. For example, what looks like a child with ADD simply not paying attention may, in fact, be a child who simply cannot understand what is being said. If they are misdiagnosed, treatment will certainly be ineffective. 

Children with auditory processing disorders may exhibit symptoms similar to those of attention deficit disorders, such as being easily distracted, not engaging in class, or not following directions.

Early intervention matters

Burns believes early intervention to improve auditory processing can have a significant positive impact on a child’s learning. Also, children with a family history of dyslexia are known to have more difficulties with auditory processing. To minimize the chances of a misdiagnosis, a multi-pronged approach that takes all these factors into account is crucial. One-off therapies do not address the whole.

Key Takeaways:

Auditory processing disoder, ADD and dyslexia share common symptoms.
Children with a family history of dyslexia struggle with auditory processing.
Early intervention is crucial.

It's no surprise there is such an overlap in these diagnoses. Sensory input from any of the three main senses (auditory, visual, kinesthetic) going awry can cause very similar symptoms. And no matter which sensory input is troubled, it's more beneficial to work on all three. Simply because they all work together. An isolated approach can often be ineffective. Whereas, a holistic approach can work miracles.


A diagnosis is not a cure. It can be helpful in some situations. But often what is more helpful is parents working with their children in a structured manner to build up focus, build up the micro-skills of learning, and build self-confidence.


Working on all of these can never hurt and no matter what the diagnosis (or if you even get one) you will already be on track when that diagnosis is determined.


It's amazing what a determined parent can do.


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